Thursday, 22 December 2011

Sacred Crafts Through The Centuries

At the request of Louis we've visited Bristol Cathedral not once, but twice this week to complete the activities in a lovely leaflet, 'The Time Traveller's Trail'  provided by the custodians.  This helps children to explore and discover some of the interesting artefacts in the chapels and other parts of this historic building.

I no longer describe myself as having a Christian faith. There are complex reasons behind this which I won't go into as part of a frou-frou blog.  However, I still like to visit holy places and respect their sanctity.  They are often house beautifully objects and  I marvel at the time, love and energy that has been put into producing these over the centuries.  This Bristol Blue Glass font is a bang up to date piece which is prominently on display.

What amazes me is the time that has been lavished on items which do not have pride of place - things that have to be sought out.  Being a bit of a needlewoman myself I know how long it takes to produce ornate needlepoint cushions.  There must be hundreds of these in total  around the cathedral and I am willing to bet that for most of the time people just park their bums or knees on them without paying attention to their subject matter at all.

My search for less prominent artisan pieces was aided by Louis' ecclesiastical version of 'Hunt the Thimble'.  It prompted him to look out for animals in the Elder Lady Chapel and in joining in the search I discovered this sweet beastie, a lion cub perhaps,  peeping out of the stony undergrowth of one of the walls  for goodness knows how many years . Could he have been there since this part of the building was built in the thirteenth century or was he added by a stonemason with a sense of fun at a later date?

Another chap with a different type of chisel spent time, possibly in the Victorian era, produced this intricate wood carving in the nave.  In many other settings such workmanship would be proudly displayed but this is not the case for this music making ethereal being.  He's tucked away on the end of a pew  in the gloom.  Perhaps the idea behind hiding all these treasures is that the makers only expected God to find and enjoy them. I hope they'd be pleased that I was specifically trying to seek them out today.

Back to modern times, to a work that is very prominently displayed.  This is one of ten  panels embroidered with prayers that were commissioned in 2006 from  Jacqui Frost, a textile designer  who hales from my neck of the woods in Devon.  More of her work is displayed in other cathedrals around the country, including the nearest to my home, Exeter.  I might be moseying on down there to take a peek.

I can't say that this piece spoke to me in the way that the artist, who is a devote Christian herself meant it to. But I can concur, as a person whose worry and anxiety, in the past seemed to know no bounds, that it is a rather amazing thing when it ceases to be pivotal in your life.

No comments:

Post a Comment